Sewing Patterns for the Patchwork & Vintage Textile Lover

patchwork sewing patterns
Calendar Patchwork tote
by Susan Wasinger.

I collect vintage textiles and I like to incorporate them in my artwork. I have been using many of my more fragile pieces in my Prayer Flag Project, stitched to sturdier pieces of muslin or linen.

But I also like to repurpose vintage textiles in functional ways. So I'm always looking for sewing patterns that I can adapt to include my vintage fabric and trims.

When I saw this sewing pattern from the Winter 2008 issue of Stitch magazine, I thought, "What better way to cart my groceries or bring along my yoga equipment than in an environmentally friendly and stylish tote like this one?"

The construction and materials are so simple; you need only basic sewing skills to put this tote together. It's a great way to incorporate some vintage fabric (that can be a little worn and delicate) with new, more durable fabric so it will hold up to use.

The bag was designed by Susan Wasinger, who has been sewing since she was 4! I modified the directions a bit to reflect how I would assemble the pieces.

Calendar Patchwork Tote


  • ¾ yard of cottan canvas or duck
  • 2-3, or more, cotton or linen vintage towels
  • Basic sewing supplies


1. Cut out the fabrics:

  • For the top band: 2 pieces of 19" x 4 ½ cotton canvas or duck
  • For the central 2 patchwork bands, (1 for each side of the bag): piece together interesting parts of the calendar towels and trim to make 2 bands each measuring 19" x 8½"
  • For the bottom of the bag, cut a 19" x 19" square of cotton canvas or duck
  • For the 2 straps: 4 pieces of fabric each 2" x 23"

(Use 3/8" seam allowances, unless otherwise noted.) 

2. With right sides together, sew one of the top bands to one of the patchwork bands. Repeat with the other set of bands.

3. With right sides together, sew the patchwork edges of the bands to the opposite sides of the 19" square.

4. Fold this large fabric piece in half, right sides together, making sure the bands of patchwork match up along the sides. Machine stitch the side seams and finish by zigzagging the seam allowances together.

5. Turn the bag right side out and fold down the top edge of the bag, toward the wrong side ½ inch, then fold over again 1". Pin and topstitch around the perimeter of the bag, about ¾" – 7/8" in from the edge.

6. To give the bag structure, create a bottom gusset: Turn the bag inside out and lay it flat in front of you so the bottom corner is pointing up and the side seam is running directly down the center. Measure in from the corner about 3 ¼" and mark a line across the width (from edge to edge). This line will be about 6" long. Machine stitch through both layers along the line. Repeat on the other side at the opposite corner of the bag. It makes a stronger bottom if you leave the excess fabric in place instead of trimming the seam. When you turn the bag right side out, you will have a flat bottom created by the seams.

My version. I made it in an hour!

7. To make the straps, pin 2 of the strap pieces together with the right sides facing. Machine stitch ¼" seams along the long sides and one of the short ends. Trim the corners and turn right side out. Tuck in the raw edges on the open end and hand- or machine stitch closed. Repeat this entire step with the remaining strap pieces.

8. Mark the positions for the 4 places the straps will attach to the bag along the top edge. Each should be about 5½" from the side seams.

9. Tuck the strap end about 1½" into the bag's interior and pin in place. Topstitch horizontally across the top and bottom of the 1½" of handle that is inside the bag, with the bottom stitching laying right over the topstitching that is already in place. Backstitch repeatedly to reinforce the connection. Repeat with the other ends of the straps in the same fashion.

That's all there is to it!

You can find this and many other downloadable sewing patterns where you can use patchwork techniques and vintage textiles in the Quilting Daily shop.

P.S. Do you use vintage textiles in your fiber art? In what ways do you incorporate them? Leave a comment below and include a link to a photo, if you have one.

Other topics you may enjoy:


Quilting Daily Blog, Sewing Techniques

10 thoughts on “Sewing Patterns for the Patchwork & Vintage Textile Lover

  1. Vivieka,
    I am have a hard time visualizing the seam you are making across the bottom to make it flat. Did you by some chance leave part of the process out. Can you give a drawing for what you are doing?
    Thanks, Rebecca

  2. I’ve been thinking about making tote bags with some vintage finds, so it was nice to see how you did it.

    I’ve been collecting vintage fabrics, tea towels and other linens, and crocheted doilies and trims. I’ve sewn crocheted trims to zine covers (you can see my photos on – I’ve also used vintage linen doilies and fabrics in a banner (also on flickr:, and are representative photos).

  3. I use beautiful old hankies to make either butterfly quilts or just use the squares to make another kind of simple quilt. You can see an example on my fb page.

  4. Love this, I have some pieces from my grandmother that I am trying to find a use for. Now I know how to use those old calander towels!! Thanks very cute, and I am teaching my daughter to sew and she will love these.

  5. When you lay the bag down Rebecca, you need to have the bottom seam and the side seam laid one on top of the other, so you have a triangle shape, the point of the triangle is where you sew across. However far you sew from the point of the triangle will be the width of you gusset, you sew at right angles to the point. Hope that makes sense but it is not easy to explain. Check on u tube, they have some great demo’s. Good luck

  6. If you're looking for some ideas for handmade quilted gifts , I want to remind you of three of my favorites. Two are make-in-day projects. One is a little more involved, but worth the time, I think.